Eastern Nigeria Medical Centre (ENMC) is a non-profit hospital in Eastern Nigeria.
Unfortunately, as a result of the Nigerian Civil War (1966-1970) and changes in government, it not only lost all its equipments but it was taken over. Before this sad era it was about the best equipped and staffed hospital in Nigeria because of the international support it enjoyed. It took many years of tireless effort by the ENMC Board of Trustees and the founding director, N.E.Okeke,MD, a United States trained surgeon for the authorities to return the hospital to the Board of Trustees in 1976. It has been a monumental struggle to bring the hospital back to its past potentials in which it provided affordable quality service to the people.
Eastern Nigeria Medical Centre - The Product
On the day of my graduation from Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, a lady walked up to me and offered me accommodations in her home if I gained admission into any of the three medical schools in Boston, Massachusetts. I jumped at the offer; she then introduced herself as the wife of the Episcopalian Bishop of Massachusetts, Rt. Rev. Norman B. Nash. My five years stay with them influenced my life greatly.
The seed of establishing a private non-profit hospital that could help to improve the standard of medical practice in Nigeria was sown in my mind by the late Chief Medical Director of Medical Services in the former Eastern Region of Nigeria. This was when he visited Boston in 1957 while I was undergoing my surgical training in Boston. When I met him, he had to introduce himself to me as I did not know him in Nigeria. He requested that I promise him that on completion of my surgical training, I would return to Nigeria not to work for the Government but to build a hospital that would demonstrate to both existing Government and private hospitals that we could improve the standards of medical practice by laying emphasis on human values of sympathy, love and medical ethics. Before he left Boston, I had to make the promise of taking on the challenge he posed to me.
Following the above promise, I made some contacts in 1958 of persons I felt would support a programme for establishing a good hospital not managed by the government in Nigeria. As a result, a foundation--Nigerian-American Hospital Foundation was set up. The Foundation was incorporated in Massachusetts on June 16, 1960 to provide for the building of a non-profit hospital in Enugu, Eastern Nigeria.
On my return to Nigeria late in 1960, I presented my programme to the then Premier of the Eastern Region, the late Dr. M.I. Okpara. The programme received the governments support and it leased a 11.98 acres of land and also recommended a bank which gave me the loan to construct a 98 bed hospital. It stood surety for the loan. In 1963, the hospital was commissioned by the Premier of Eastern Nigeria, the late Dr. M.I. Okpara. The hospital was registered as a non-profit hospital. It still retains this policy. When the hospital was opened, it received several donations from individuals, organizations and governments.
Prior to the Nigerian civil war, the hospital gave orientation training to the first two U.S. doctors who took care of Peace Corps Volunteers in Nigeria. Any sick Peace Corp volunteers were admitted and treated at the Medical Centre. I was invited to the State Department in Washington to give my advice on the medical care of the Peace Corps Volunteers before they were sent to Nigeria. We trained two Peace Corp doctors that took care of the health problems of the Volunteers. Groups of American doctors and nurses volunteered and worked in the Medical Centre during the summers. Many American doctors worked at the hospital -- often for two years. One of them Dr. Terence James Hadley still keeps in touch with us. The first dentists and first radiologist that worked with us were American citizens. Many Phillipino and Indian doctors have also worked at the hospital. They all gave very dedicated and committed service. Unfortunately now that the Nigerian currency has been drastically devalued, very few Nigerian institutions can afford to hire foreign professionals.
The main aim and objective of the Medical Centre as is stated in the Certificate of Incorporation is to provide for all manner of people a non-profit voluntary hospital to be established and managed at Enugu and known as Eastern Nigeria Medical Centre. The administration of the hospital has kept this policy up till today.
In 1966, the Civil War started in Nigeria and ended in 1970. At the end of the Nigeria civil war, the then Military Government occupied the hospital until 1976 when the then Head of State, General Obasanjo, returned the hospital to us. He believed that the hospital was rendering valuable service in its private capacity. The hospital buildings were left in a dilapidated state and all the equipment unaccounted for by the Government when the hospital was handed over to the Board of Eastern Nigeria Medical Centre. With the little compensation paid by the State Government, we started to rehabilitate the structures in the hospital. The cost of rehabilitating the hospital was more than the cost of building it. Again the Nigerian-American Hospital Foundation played a major role in the reequipping of the hospital. The Presiding Bishops Fund for World Relief, the Episcopal Church, New York donated to us a blood bank (which is still in use) and later, a portable ultrasound machine. Chief J.D. Okeke, a Trustee donated all the equipment in the Eye Clinic.
Up to 1985, there were twelve foreign doctors and six Nigerian doctors working in the hospital. When the economy of Nigeria went sour in 1985, we lost all the foreign doctors and most of the foreign specialists in different departments of the hospital.
It is important to note the Medical Centre was the first private hospital in Nigeria approved by the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council to train interns. We still train two each year.
THE HOSPITAL FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMME
When the hospital was returned to our control in 1976, we started a nondenominational Christian fellowship programme. All the staff of the hospital and ambulatory admitted patients attend the fellowship programme every morning. All admitted nonambulatory patients are visited for fellowship at the bedside by representatives of the fellowship programme. Some patients and their relatives have publicly accepted Jesus Christ right here in the hospital. Some have attributed their recovery to prayers of intercession received here. This is one of the most encouraging programmes in the hospital. Many hospitals presently are starved for patients because of the poor economy, but we still get patients from villages and towns. We thank God. This is all due to Gods support of the hospital.
UPDATING MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE SEMINARS
Following the opening of this hospital to the public in 1963, we paid attention to having a well- equipped medical library to serve the needs of doctors and professional staff. We subscribed to forty different medical journals and subscribed to pediatric, surgical, medical, and obstetrics-gynecological cassettes yearly. Once a year, we organised seminars in which we chose specialists from all parts of Nigeria to present papers at the seminar. We underwrote their traveling and hotel expenses in Enugu. This we did to encourage participation. The first seminar on carcinoma in West Africans was held in this hospital. During the civil war, we lost all the papers on the seminars held here.
Due to the down turn in the Nigerian economy, we cannot now afford the money to subscribe to medical journals and cassettes. Of course we stopped the sponsorship of seminars very long ago due to cost constraints. One of the deficiencies in medical education and training of doctors in Nigeria is the updating of their medical knowledge.
As early as 1989, we started HIV screening of all blood donors as well as patients. The high cost of buying the lab reagents has not changed our policy. But we are very much limited by funds in the volume of work done in this area. General HIV screening service is hampered because of the high cost of the tests. The service should be subsidized through making kits affordable and available.
Today in Nigeria, over 80% of patients seen in hospitals cannot pay any amounts however small for their medical treatment. Many of them cannot boast of having three meals daily. Many hospitals cannot replace any of the worn out equipment due to the poor economy. The unemployment rate has been increasing making the situation worse. The Government, including the Federal Government find it difficult to financially support public hospitals, let alone private ones.
Only a few hospitals in Nigeria including teaching hospitals that has a mammographic x-ray machine, yet breast cancer is steadily on the rise and unfortunately, not detected until after it has started to spread in the patient. Other cases of cancers of different organs are also on the rise. In the seven Eastern states in Nigeria wih a population of 20 million people, we do not have a C.T. scanner to confirm the diagnosis and follow patients progress during treatment. There is only one hospital, in Lagos, that has an x-ray therapy unit. It is unthinkable but a fact, that there is only one neurosurgeon in our own area of the country. The ratio of medical consultants to the population is about 20,000 patients to one consultant.
With such dire conditions facing the medical practice in Nigeria, the Eastern Nigeria Medical Centre is fervently looking for existing foundation(s) to adopt our hospital. The former Nigerian - American Foundation is no longer functioning. This makes it difficult for any foundation in the Untied States to donate any equipment or monies to us. We need such an adoption in order for the Medical Centre to continue to play a philanthropic role in Nigeria.
Today, we want the Eastern Nigeria Medical Centre to become primarily a diagnostic centre rather than a treatment centre in Enugu. It is a hospital that has great ideas, a hospital that has had a good start, a hospital that was nearly completely grounded by circumstances, a hospital that is now inviting you to help resuscitate it.. We will be happy to entertain any questions that you might wish to ask.